If you have been speaking to people about the truth of the gospel, one of the most common arguments that you will normally hear are things such as ‘thats your truth’ or ‘whats true for you is true for you and whats true for me is true for me’.

Click picture below to make the text larger if you cannot read it2008-01-25-43

In (John 18:38), Pilate asked the question is “What is truth?” when the Truth (John 14:16) was standing right in front of him.

One of the reasons why people do not like to admit that there is such a thing as absolute truth is because if, for example, the bible is true,  then they will have to admit that they will have to stand before a holy God on judgment day to give an account. So what they do instead is make up their own reality and their own god. Their god just goes around loving and forgiving everyone but has no sense of ultimate justice and just let lawbreakers off the hook.

rman1934l

One of the arguments that I normally use is if you have a person who jumps off a tall building believing that he can fly. His belief will not save him no matter how hard he believes because the law of gravity (absolute truth) will kick in. In the same way, it doesnt matter what a person believes. What matters is what is actually true.

I saw this article on the CARM website. It does not try to prove that christianity is true (I have done a series on this previously) but it does talk about the foolishness of relativism.

Relativism is perhaps the easiest of all positions to refute. When someone states that all truth is relative or that there are no absolute truths, then it is a simple matter of demonstrating the illogic of their position. These short replies to their statements are just what you need.

Following are some statements made by those in relativism. Find one that fits, copy and paste the reply into a window and see what they say.

  1. “All truth is relative”
    • If all truth is relative, then the statement “All truth is relative” would be absolutely true. If it is absolutely true, then not all things are relative and the statement that “All truth is relative” is false.
  2. “There are no absolute truths”
    • The statement “There are no absolute truths” is an absolute statement which is supposed to be true. Therefore it is an absolute truth and “There are no absolute truths” is false.
    • If there are no absolute truths, then you cannot believe anything absolutely at all, including that there are no absolute truths. Therefore, nothing could be really true for you – including relativism.
  3. “What is true for you is not true for me”
    • If what is true for me is that relativism is false, then is it true that relativism is false?
    • If you say no, then what is true for me is not true and relativism is false. If you say yes, then relativism is false.
    • If you say that it is true only for me that relativism is false, then I am believing something other than relativism; namely, that relativism is false. If that is true, then how can relativism be true?
    • If you say that it is true only for me that relativism is false, then am I believing a premise that is true or false or neither?
    • If it is true for me that relativism is false, then relativism (within me) holds the position that relativism is false. This is self-contradictory and can’t be true.
    • If it is false for me that relativism is false, then relativism isn’t true because what is true for me is not said to be true for me.
    • If you say that what is true for me is neither really true or false, then relativism isn’t true since it states that all views are equally valid and by not being, at least true, relativism is shown to be wrong.
    • If I believe that relativism is false, and if it is true only for me that it is false, then you must admit that it is absolutely true that I am believing that relativism false.
    • If you admit that it is absolutely true that I am believing relativism is false, then relativism is defeated since you admit there is something absolutely true.
    • If I am believing in something other than relativism that is true, then there is something other than relativism that is true – even if it is only for me.
    • If there is something other than relativism that is true, then relativism is false.
  4. “No one can know anything for sure”
    • If that is true, then we can know that we cannot know anything for sure which is self defeating.
  5. “That is your reality, not mine”
    • Is my reality really real or not? If it is, then my reality states that relativism is false. If my reality is not true, then relativism isn’t true either since it states that my reality is true.
    • If my reality is different than yours, how can my reality contradict your reality? If yours and mine are equally real, how can two opposite realities that exclude each other really exist at the same time — especially since reality is that which is true?
  6. “We all perceive what we want”
    • If we all perceive what we want, then how do you know that statement is true since I can want to perceive that your statement is false?
    • If we all perceive what we want, then what are you wanting to perceive?
    • If you say you want to perceive truth, how do you know if you are not deceived? Simply desiring truth is no proof you have it.
  7. “You may not use logic to refute relativism”
    • Why may I not use logic to refute relativism? Do you have a logical reason for your statement? If not, then you aren’t being logical. If you do, then you are using logic to refute logic and that can’t happen.
    • Can you give me a logical reason why logic cannot be used?
    • If you use relativism to refute logic, then on what basis is relativism (that nothing is absolutely true) able to refute logic which is based upon truth since you must assume relativism is absolutely true to be able to refute logic.
    • If you use relativism to refute logic, then relativism has lost its relative status since it is used to absolutely refute the truth of something else.
  8. “We are only perceiving different aspects of the same reality”
    • If our perceptions of reality are contradictory, can either perception be trusted?
    • Is truth self contradictory? If it were, then truth wouldn’t be true because it would be self refuting. If something is self refuting, then it isn’t true.
    • If that is true that we are perceiving different aspects of the same reality, then am I believing something that is false since I believe that your reality is not true? How then could they be the same reality?
    • If you are saying that it is merely my perception that is not true, then relativism is refuted. If I am believing something that is false, then relativism is not true since it holds that all views are equally valid.
    • If my reality is that your reality is false, then both cannot be true. If both are not true, then one of us (or both) is in error. If one or both of us is in error, then relativism is not true.
  9. “Relativism itself is excluded from the critique that it is absolute and self-refuting”
    • On what basis do you simply exclude relativism from the critique of logic? Is this an arbitrary act? If so, does it justify your position? If it is not arbitrary, what criteria did you use to exclude it?
    • To exclude itself from the start is an admission of the logical problems inherent in its system of thought.
About these ads
Comments
  1. catalyst0 says:

    Interesting. Does relativism threaten you, somehow?

    These are mostly straw man arguments. That, and you are mastering assumption.

    “Relativism itself is excluded from the critique that it is absolute and self-refuting”

    Please explain how it is self-refuting.

    Try to solve this:

    http://enterthecatalyst.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/conceptual-riddle-challenge/

    It may help you think about relativism differently.

  2. Alan Higgins says:

    Here is a simple question as stated above which you may think is silly and it is……if relativism is true. If a person truly believes that he jumps off a building that he will fly and that is HIS truth, will it happen or will he fall?

    • Catalyst says:

      Alan, what do you think relativism is? lol

      If anything, you’re attacking psychologism, here. That is – your beef is with subjective thinking.

      Relativism establishes value parameters for causal and effect relationships. Also, it can gauge estimations in propositional logic (AKA – mathematics). Mathematics uses variables to communicate relative parameters.

      I’ll give a simple example:

      7(3x) = 21x is a relative statement. That is – it is relative to the value of x.

      Now – you never answered me. Please explain how relativism is self refuting.

      I hope you have a better grasp on what it is now. I still want to know why you launched a full out assault on the relative modality. lol

      Do you feel that it could threaten your religion?

      ?

      • Alan Higgins says:

        OK. Let me be clear. There are some things which can be looked at relatively. For example, I might hear a song and think it is good whereas you might think it is rubbish. There is no law that governs that and so that is just down to personal opinion. However, there are somethings that no matter what my opinion is, the law will govern it. A member of your family might be murdered and the murderer sees no problem with it whereas you know that it is wrong for that person to take a life. The law dictates that it is wrong and they will have to pay for their crime.

        I keep going back to my person jumping off the building analogy. No matter what a person believes, the law of gravity will dictate that if the person jumps off the building, it doesnt matter what that person believes, the fixed law of gravity dictates that that person will fall

        In the same way, it doesnt matter what a person believes, God also has a fixed law which says that if you break it, then there must be a penalty for it (https://realchristianity.wordpress.com/a-message-to-non-christians/) . It doesnt matter how much you believe something else, you still will have to face God for breaking his law…..but there is a loophole

        • Catalyst says:

          “I keep going back to my person jumping off the building analogy. No matter what a person believes, the law of gravity will dictate that if the person jumps off the building, it doesnt matter what that person believes, the fixed law of gravity dictates that that person will fall”

          Sure. However, once again, this is something known as “psychologism.”

          It may work with the mentally challenged, but not with someone who can demonstrate functional application for relative schemas.

          Your psycho roof jumper analogy is misdirected, sir. A person like this believes in no empirical reality outside of themselves – apparently. lol

          Again, I have a link for you…I won’t leave you and the roof jumper hanging on this one.

          Ironically, religious people ultimately must resort to this kind of reality model due to the fact that nothing holds up their claims but sheer belief. I think you and the roof jumper may have something in common.

          Yes…I went there. Because, it’s time to wake up, Alan.

          Now, this excerpt will provide examples of “psychologism”

          Examples of Psychologistic Reasoning

          “Although the exact definition of ‘psychologism’ was itself part and parcel of the Psychologismus-Streit, most German-speaking philosophers, from the 1880s onwards, agreed that the following arguments deserved the label ‘psychologistic’ (I shall write PA for ‘psychologistic argument’):
          (PA 1) 1. Psychology is defined as the science which studies all (kinds of) laws of thought.
          2. Logic is a field of inquiry which studies a subset of all laws of thought.
          Ergo, logic is a part of psychology.
          (PA 2) 1. Normative-prescriptive disciplines — disciplines that tell us what we ought to do — must be based upon descriptive-explanatory sciences.
          2. Logic is a normative-prescriptive discipline concerning human thinking.
          3. There is only one science which qualifies as constituting the descriptive-explanatory foundation for logic: empirical psychology.
          Ergo, logic must be based upon psychology.
          (PA 3) 1. Logic is the theory of judgments, concepts, and inferences.
          2. Judgments, concepts, and inferences are human mental entities.
          3. All human mental entities fall within the domain of psychology.
          Ergo, logic is a part of psychology.
          (PA 4) 1. The touchstone of logical truth is the feeling of self-evidence.
          2. The feeling of self-evidence is a human mental experience.
          Ergo, logic is about a human mental experience — and thus a part of psychology.
          (PA 5) 1. We cannot conceive of alternative logics.
          2. The limits of conceivability are mental limits.
          Ergo, logic is relative to the thinking of the human species; and this thinking is studied by psychology.

          Who actually held these views, indeed whether anyone did, was hotly contested at the time, but it seems reasonable to attribute PA 1 to Theodor Lipps (1893) and Gerardus Heymans (1894, 1905), PA 2 to Wilhelm Wundt (1880/83), PA 3 to Wilhelm Jerusalem (1905) and Christoph Sigwart (1921), PA 4 to Theodor Elsenhans (1897), and PA 5 to Benno Erdmann (1892). We might also note a couple of quotations that for many authors at the time were paradigmatic expressions of psychologism. The bulk of the first quotation comes from Mill’s Logic and has already been quoted in the last section:

          So far as it is a science at all, [Logic] is a part, or branch, of Psychology; differing from it, on the one hand as the part differs from the whole, and on the other, as an Art differs from a Science. Its theoretical grounds are wholly borrowed from Psychology, and include as much of that science as is required to justify its rules of art (1865, 359).

          And Theodor Lipps held that

          … logic is a psychological discipline since the process of coming-to-know takes place only in the soul, and since that thinking which completes itself in this coming-to-know is a psychological process. The fact that psychology differs from logic in disregarding the opposition between knowledge and error does not mean that psychology equates these two different psychological conditions. It merely means that psychology has to explain knowledge and error in the same way. Obviously, no-one claims that psychology dissolves into logic. What separates the two sufficiently is that logic is a sub-discipline of psychology (Lipps 1893, 1–2).”

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/psychologism/

  3. Derek says:

    The article here is replete with assumptions. Relativism isn’t necessarily that there are no absolute truths; it’s that our perception of truth, of reality is formed by culture i.e every piece of media you read including religious texts. Truth should not be thought of as something that is either absolute or indifferent but a variable perception which is situated in a certain context. It’s always contextual, meaning that it can not be positioned within one rule. Knowledge is peculiar; we can never know for certain whether we are right.

  4. Alan Higgins says:

    But you have said it yourself when you say that ‘our perception of truth, of reality is formed by culture’ which is true but then that is only a perception, it is not truth and your statement ‘a variable perception which is situated in a certain context’ proves my point. Again, if a culture believes that jumping off a building gives them the power to fly, just because the culture believes it, doesnt make it true. Context doesnt make it true. And what happens if my ‘truth’ says your ‘truth’ is a lie or your ‘truth’ says my ‘truth’ is a lie, which ‘truth’ is correct? Jesus says he is the ONLY way to God. Other religions say otherwise. One of these can be true or both of these can be false but they cannot BOTH be true as they are mutually exclusive

    • Derek says:

      You are missing the point. The point is that we should re-conceptualize truth. It should not be something outside of human perception since it cannot be conceived without perceptions. “What happened, happened” is an irrelevant, nonsensical statement; it has no meaning without our own perceptions. Truth does not exist within the act (one jumping off a building and dieing); it exists within the perceptions of a social actor. Social actor because our perceptions of reality are formed by cultural productions and social interactions. My experience and my knowledge tell me if someone jumps off a building they will die. It’s not saying it is true for me and not true fore someone else because that is not what truth is about, depending on the lexical choice of the word. That’s a whole other debate.

  5. Catalyst says:

    “But you have said it yourself when you say that ‘our perception of truth, of reality is formed by culture’ which is true but then that is only a perception, it is not truth and your statement ‘a variable perception which is situated in a certain context’ proves my point”

    1) This is a nasty run on sentence.

    2) I think you’d better humble yourself a bit because you are lacking in the sense department.

    3) You shouldn’t ever tell someone that they prove your point in philosophy. It makes you seem intellectually lethargic and may be interpreted as a cry of desperation.

    Listen, the situational aspects you’re confronting with your examples inform me that you do not understand relativism.

    Let me help you…

    *dusts off Stanford link*

    I’m going to post script from this site because I feel that you may not follow through on the research if I post a lone link (this is merely a section of an academic paper on the subject).

    —————————————————————————————————————–

    “One is not a relativist, or a descriptive or normative relativist, simpliciter. Both descriptive and normative relativism are families of views, each member of which holds that one or more things (e.g., epistemic standards, moral principles) is relative to something else (e.g., language, culture), and it is possible to be a relativist about some of these things but not about others.

    It is often useful to think about relativism in terms of a general relativistic schema:

    Relativistic Schema: Y is relative to X.

    Different versions of relativism result from replacing Y by different features of thought, experience, evaluation, or even reality (e.g., modes of perception, standards of rationality), replacing X by something that is thought to lead to differences in the value of Y (e.g., language, historical period), and explaining what the phrase relative to amounts to in the case at hand. Each choice of Y and X yields both a version of descriptive relativism and a version of normative relativism (we turn to these below). Many variations are possible, but for a relativistic thesis to be of much interest, Y needs to be something that is important and that is often regarded as non-relative across groups. [1]

    It will be useful to have a generic, catch-all label for the X slot–what things are relativized to–and following a common usage we will speak of relativization to conceptual frameworks or simply frameworks. Cover terms that have been used in related ways include ‘worldview’ (Weltanschauung), ‘categorial scheme’ and, more distantly, ‘form of life’, ‘paradigm’, and ‘life world’ (Lebenswelt). Conceptual frameworks themselves are almost always thought to be determined by something else. Hence labels like ‘framework’ are really just placeholders, with the real work being done by concrete instantiations of X with notions like language, culture, historical epoch, or some other parameter.

    In the general schema Y is a dependent variable (depending on frameworks), and X is the independent variable (that influences one or more dependent variables). When people speak of relativism of a given sort they sometimes focus on factors that typically function as dependent variables (as with conceptual relativism or moral relativism); other times they focus on factors that typically function as independent variables (cultural relativism, the linguistic relativity hypothesis). But a complete version of relativism requires the specification of both (along with an account of the relationship between them).

    It is easy to over-intellectualize the notion of a conceptual framework. On most accounts frameworks are not tidy and precise cognitive artifacts like road maps or axiomatic formal systems. They are often messy, indefinite, and may include vague intuitions or cognitive habits as well as specific principles and standards. For example, we form various cognitive habits so that certain things automatically count, with little need for argument or reflection, as strong evidence for certain other things. Nor are frameworks cognitive artifacts that we can abandon or change at will. We inhabit them. They permeate many aspects of our thought and experience, providing much of the texture of our lives, and when they do they are central to who we are, what matters to us most, and what we can see as making sense.”

    ———————————————————————————————————-

    The author uses the X, Y plane for illustration here. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with higher level mathematics, but this shows how a relative dynamic functions.

    Read the paper:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s